Indian languages * American Indian culture * Indian heritage

Baidarka (Baidarkas)

"Baidarka" is the name of the traditional Aleut kayak style. This is not actually an Aleut word-- it comes from the Russian word baidara, which comes from an indigenous Siberian word for "boat" and was used by Russian explorers to refer to any kind of native boat. Aleut people call their kayaks iqyax in their own language.

Baidarkas were fast, maneuverable hunting boats. A baidarka was made of a light wooden frame with a sea lion skin cover stretched over it, and was propelled and steered with a wooden paddle. In the old days, each Aleut hunter paddled his own baidarka, but after guns were introduced by the Russians, they began using larger two-man kayaks, because a baidarka was so light that the recoil of a gun would capsize it without a second paddler to keep it steady.

Sponsored Links

Here are links to our webpages about the Aleut tribe and language:

 Aleut language
 Aleut culture
 Aleut vocabulary
 Aleut pronunciation
 Eskimo-Aleut language family
 Alaska Natives

Here are links to more Internet resources about baidarkas:
 Aleutian Kayaks (Baidarka)
 Cultural Change: Bidarki
 Wikipedia: Baidarka
 Native Kayaks

And here are a few good books about baidarkas and the Aleuts:
 The Aleutian Kayak: Origins, Construction, and Use of the Traditional Seagoing Baidarka
 Baidarka: The Kayak
 Aleut Identities: Tradition and Modernity
 Aleut Dictionary
 Aleut Tales and Narratives

Back to our Native American encyclopedia

Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered Native languages?

Native Languages of the Americas website 1998-2015 * Contacts and FAQ page